By Tom Tanner
In the introduction to Keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services it says they hope that the document, prepared by BEIS, businesses, unions, industry bodies will help you keep staff and customers safe, that the new distancing guidelines are practical.
We’ve read and reviewed the guidance. Rather than regurgitate every point, we’ve pulled the most important points from a sustainability perspective to help you re-open safely and sustainably. And with ten days to go until re-opening day in England (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to follow soon we hope), here are our top ten tips here are ten tips to help you do just that.
Headings from the guide and our tips are in bold and we’ve labelled all the section numbers of the headings so you can easily find more on each point there.
So, STEP 1: Complete a Covid-19 Risk Assessment
If you have more than four workers this is essential, must be written down and must be done in consultation with your team.
Top Tip 1: It’s hugely important to get input from your team in this process, including them in the process and making them feel safe at work as well as actually ensuring their safety. If you have more than 50 workers, you are expected to publish your risk assessment on your website.
Keeping customers and visitors safe (section 2)
To support the NHS Track and Trace system you’ll be required to keep a temporary record of your customers details.
Top Tip 2: You can communicate this as part of your commitment to your customers’ safety and your dedication to the national effort. Your booking platform partners should have this data captured already.
Calculate your capacity following 2m or 1m with mitigation, where 2m is not viable.
Introduce a range of measures to minimise the risk of breaching distancing guidelines, like working with neighbours on additional parking and bike racks as well as manageable queuing.
Top Tip 3: Here’s an opportunity both to interact with other businesses in the community as well as communicate to your customers that you are managing and taking care of their safety and acting with the wider community in mind.
Strongly consider contacting your customers in advance, telling them about any reservation, ordering and payment systems. Another excellent opportunity to convey that their health is safe in your hands.
2.2 Managing service of food and drink at a venue (Section 2.2)
Steps that will usually be needed:
Maintaining two metres when taking orders, using distancing markers, contactless payments, asking customers to stay at their tables.
The guidance also recommends providing only disposable condiments or cleaning non-disposable condiment containers after each use.
Top Tip 4: Encourage staff to ask customers if they want condiments and only provide on request to avoid unnecessary waste.
Service at the venue (Section 2.2.2)
Encourage contactless ordering, eg through an app and assign a single staff member per table.
Top Tip 5 – If a menu app is not an option consider using blackboard menus rather than disposable ones. Or think of offering a set menu – another great way to reduce waste too.
Providing and explaining available guidance (Section 2.4)
Social distancing for workers
Where distancing guidelines cannot be followed in relation to a particular activity, they must take all mitigating actions possible to reduce transmission.
Top Tip 6: Kitchens can be cramped at the best of times. To mitigate contact during prep and service, consider reducing the number of dishes on the menu. This will also help to reduce waste with the anticipated unpredictable customer numbers, require fewer deliveries and potentially increase GP. If you do have any surplus food contact one of the many redistribution organisations – using our handy guide.
To further encourage adherence to the distancing guidelines it’s recommended that only one person has access to walk-in pantries, fridges and freezers for example.
Top Tip 7: Take the opportunity to assign one individual on each shift the responsibility for managing and monitoring waste.
Stagger shifts and provide staff with alternatives to public transport to reduce exposure to the virus.
Top Tip 8: Install a bike rack for your workers or even incentivise them to buy a bike with an interest free loan?
Before re-opening (5.1)
Check if your HVAC needs servicing. Good ventilation is an essential element of any mitigation and an efficient HVAC system is also a great way to reduce energy use and costs.
Hygiene – handwashing, sanitation, facilities and toilets
As well as the essential increase in handwashing, availability of sanitizer, signs to encourage handwashing and distancing in the toilets, operators are also encouraged to provide more waste facilities and more frequent waste collections.
Top Tip 9: Take this opportunity to speak to your waste contractor to ask if their services changed, do they recycle food waste, dispose of compostable items, provide detailed data? With cashflow under pressure waste contractors can be a great friend in the search for savings – both cash and environmental.
Inbound and outbound goods (8)
To maintain distancing and avoid surface transmission the guidance recommends a review of your delivery system, including markings and signage, staggered times and encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles.
Top Tip 10: The guide also encourages reducing the frequency of deliveries by ordering larger quantities less frequently. This comes with the bonus of fewer miles attached to your ingredients. Make this possible by speaking to suppliers about larger packs (which generally come with less packaging too), and a streamlined menu.
For more detailed advice and support, check out our Re-open Right guide and our detailed Menu 2.0 guide to plating up sustainably post-Covid and of course don’t hesitate to contact us [email protected]